Facebook hits out at snooping claims

Social networking site Facebook is furious with a Sunday Times story which claimed that the outfit was reading its users’ messages.

According to the Times, Facebook was using smartphone apps to access text message data so that it could snoop on users’ text messages.The newspaper said Facebook “admitted” to reading users’ text messages during a test of its own messaging service. The report also says information such as user location, contacts list, and browser history are often accessed and sometimes transmitted to third-party companies, including advertisers.

However a Facebook spokesperson told Cnet that the story is “completely wrong” and the accusations are inaccurate and misleading.

There is no reading of user text messages even if on the Android App store, the Facebook app permissions include SMS read/write.

Facebook said that the permission exists because it has performed some testing of products that require short message service to communicate with the Facebook app. It hasn’t made any such features available to the public.

The Sunday Times was wrong on the terminology, and wrong on the suggestion that it has been implemented, the company said.

Facebook is apparently running a limited test of mobile features which integrate with SMS functionality.

SMS read/write is not switched on for most users of the mobile app. As part of this test, we declared the presence of that functionality within our app store permissions starting with the 1.7 version of our application.

If Facebook launches any feature that makes use of those permissions, it will ensure that it is accompanied by the right kind of  guidance, the spinner said.